Tag Archives: race

Christian Hebrews

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…                    Hebrews 10:24, 25

Some of the most lovely passages in the Bible are found in the book of Hebrews, written to Jewish Christians.  The most famous chapter, of course, is the well-known roll call of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, listing some of the Old Testament believers who trusted in Christ, “Seeing we are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses … let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecto of our faith.”  (12:1)

The unknown author of this beautiful book constantly emphasizes how much better off we are in the New Testament than even such outstanding saints as Moses, Abraham, and others.  They lived in the shadows, and we have the full light of God that shines in the face of Jesus Christ.  Their worship consisted of sacrifices of dumb animals, but Christ, the true Passover Lamb, has been once sacrificed for us.  They could approach God only through the priesthood, and even the high priest was admitted into the symbolic presence of God only once in a whole year, but we can come boldly unto the throne of grace at any time, knowing we shall receive mercy and find grace for every need.

One thing that Hebrews repeatedly warns us New Testament believers against is slipping back into the formalism of the Old Testament.  It is something all of us have to beware of.  We like to have something between us and the holy God.  We are fond of things.  And so our worship gradually becomes more elaborate, liturgical, and with pictures of Jesus in church, thoughtlessly sung doxologies, etc.  Be careful that your service of God today is sincere.


We Are Saints

He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.      Hebrews 10:14

It is impossible to make progress in the Christian race unless a person realizes that he or she is a saint in Christ.  Can you imagine cheerleaders encouraging a team yelling, “Let’s go, losers”?

Possibly we get the wrong impression of ourselves because many of the songs we sing in worship services emphasize human sin.  For many of us, worship can become a time of telling God how good He is and how bad we are.  Hebrews 10:14 however, tells us that Christians have been made holy.  In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul lists many types of sinners and then says: “Such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (v. 11). We must be careful not to overlook Gods work of grace by calling attention to our sins all of the time.

Failing to recognize God’s complete salvation may also cause Christians to offend and confuse prospective converts.  What appeal does becoming a Christian have if a person doesn’t change or show any joy?

Perhaps we should address each other as “saints.”  Then, however, people would say we were being presumptuous and proud.  On the other hand, we must not take pride in humility.  Let us never call unclean what the Lord our God has hallowed.

The Purging Fire

If it bears thorns and thistles….its end is to be burned.       Hebrews 6:8

One of the differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants is that Protestants do not believe their souls go to a place of purging after death.  Even so, we cannot disregard the Bible’s teaching about the purifying fire that will touch every believer.  Paul speaks the most plainly on this subject when he talks about our investments of time and talent being burned on the last day (see I Corinthians 3:13-15).

Hebrews refers to this in connection with those who become converted and are baptized but who do not go on and live productive lives.  They become “worthless and near to being cursed” (6:8).

Hebrews refers again to Christian living under the familiar picture of a new race (12:1).  It is not enough simply to “finish the course”; most of us can walk a marathon.  Paul says that we must run to become a winner (see I Corinthians 9:24-27).  He even tells us that sometimes he had to force himself to Christian duty, lest after preaching to others he disqualify himself by not following his own instruction.

Much of our lifelong work efforts, even of the church, will go up in the final conflagration.  The Holy Spirit purifies with fire, let us remember, and those who want His baptism must be willing to have a lot that they love thrown into the flames.

Perfect Through Suffering

He learned obedience through what he suffered and [was] made perfect.       Hebrews 5:8, 9

The Christian race is not a smooth, flat track race.  It is more of a steeplechase which has several hurdles and a water barrier to clear.  As believers made their way through life, some go through deep water, some go over monstrous rocks, and some go through terrifying, dark valleys.

The only way to achieve victory in this life is “in Christ.”  Jesus sets the pace for us, and He is our pioneer as well as our coach.  It is Christ within us who has endured the course, and He enables us to run successfully.  But during painful or troublesome times, we may be tempted to say, “Is this any way for God to treat His children?”  The book of Hebrews answers: “If you are left without discipline …. you are illegitimate children” (12:8).  We can always find strength in Christ.  He understands our difficulty when saboteurs like Satan put hurdles in our way, because He has endured the same thing.

The race is not identical for every runner.  Some of us see more than our share of mud and mountains.  And come of us cheat, like the Boston Marathoner who took a subway across town.

Believers, however, race as a team.  When one member of Christ’s body suffers, every teammate suffers.  But when one wins, they all do.

The Beginning of Nations

The sons of Noah, who went forth from the ark, were Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  Ham was the father of Canaan…..from these the whole earth was peopled.      Genesis 9:18,19

A few people have the absurd ideas that one of Noah’s sons was black, another white, and the third must have been a kind of mixture to take care of the Indians, Orientals, and all the rest.  We smile at such nonsense, yet we often forget that all the races did descend ultimately from one man, Noah, so that we are all cousins under the skin.

What is more, the entire matter of skin color is so confusing that we do not know who is what.  Noah was almost certainly not white.  Many so-called white people are darker than those we classify as black.  And no anthropologist knows exactly what a race is.  Nothing made Hitler appear more absurd in the eyes of intelligent people that his notion that he knew what a Aryan was, plus his insistence that the Aryans are a superior race.

It is a simple Bible fact that Canaan, the grandson whom Noah prophetically cursed, had nothing to do with black people, for the Canaanites did not live in Africa.  It is also a fact that the Jewish descendants of Shem, who was the most blessed of Noah’s sons, were slaves for hundreds of years.  Even more amazing, they were slaves to descendants of Ham, who was the rascal in Genesis 9:18-29.

The important question is not who is a person’s physical father, but, who is his spiritual father?  (John 1:12, 8:44)